Spanning over 234 square miles, there is no shortage of restaurants, bars, and cool places to hang out in the city of Chicago. The neighborhoods mirror the diversity of Chicago’s 2.7 million people, and it’s easy to spend a full day in any one of them.
One of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods is an area just west of Michigan Avenue and North of the river called River North. We all know that Chicago is famous for their steakhouses and deep-dish pizza, but I’ve gathered a list of great spots that are worth a visit-whether you’re from out of town or from just down the street and haven’t had a chance to explore this space.
- Three Dots and a Dash
435 N. Clark St.
Though it’s tucked away and initially difficult to find from the street, it’s absolutely well worth it once you do find it. While the address is on Clark street, you actually enter through an alleyway on Hubbard. An intriguing row of tiki torches invite you in and after checking your I.D. at the door, you’ll descend a set of stairs into a seemingly alternate world. A world filled with Hawaiian-style decor and an inviting space either for a date night or with a group of friends.
Even more impressive are the handcrafted cocktails. Rum is the specialty, and each cocktail is served in a different tiki mug that you can purchase if you like. You’ll also enjoy some fun garnishes on your drink-flowers, fruit, and more. Not only do they offer individual cocktails, but they are also known for their group drinks, shareable with 2-3 or 4-5 people.
Skulls next to cocktails on the menu indicate the strength of the drink. If I may make a scandalous suggestion–the Jet Pilot. It has 2 skulls which means it’s strong, but it’s darn good. At $15, it had better be!
2. Cantina Laredo
508 N. State St.
If you’re craving Mexican flavors but looking for something a bit more upscale than your average hole-in-the-wall taco joint (which don’t get me wrong can be delicious), consider Cantina Laredo.
Their award-winning “Casa-rita” is well made and delicious, and the food is something special as well. Cantina Laredo prides itself as being inspired by the flavors of Mexico City with a modern-twist. You can’t go wrong with the table-side guacamole, which is catered to your personal spice tolerance.
I’m a fan of the chicken tacos so I tried the “Pollo Asado”-corn tortillas with grilled chicken, avocado, mango-pineapple pico de gallo, cilantro, poblano sauce and monterey jack. Fresh ingredients and exceptional flavors.
The menu includes combinations if you want to try a little bit of everything!
3. The Berkshire Room
15 E. Ohio St.
Located in the ACME hotel, The Berkshire Room is an ideal spot for the cocktail lovers of the world, especially whiskey. I love going to this spot after work with a friend or before going out for dinner on the weekends. The intimate setting provides the perfect ambience to relax and have a conversation.
While there are small-bites that you can order to nibble on, this is primarily a spot for amazing drinks. You can order from their cocktail menu, but I like to recommend “The Dealer’s Choice” as a fun option for anyone who tries this spot out.
For $14, “The Dealer’s Choice” allows you to pick your liquor, your flavor profile (smoky, sweet, herbacious, strong, spicy), and pick your glass. Then, the amazing bartenders do the rest. I have ordered the Dealer’s Choice each time I’ve gone to the Berkshire room and have gotten something completely unique and delicious every time.
43 E. Ohio St.
If you don’t have the time or money to book a trip to Italy right now, just make your way over to Eataly instead. It’s essentially a large Italian Marketplace featuring a variety of restaurants and authentic Italian goods. It’s a one-stop shop for all things Italian (The first one was started in Italy in 2004).
Gelato. Espresso. Pizza, pasta, and WINE. It’s all there. You can go into Eataly to grab a bite to eat or you can purchase handmade pasta and meats from their deli/grocery section and cook at home. You can order a glass of wine and peruse the many available products, sample some cheeses and more. Eataly also offers cooking classes and wine tastings.
5. Hub 51
51 W. Hubbard St.
Named after its location 51 W. Hubbard Street, Hub 51 has something for everyone and it’s all delicious. Their style is “A social dining hub serving up contemporary American eats”. Their menu has everything from sushi rolls, to tacos to burgers and sandwiches and more. Oftentimes when a restaurant has such a diverse menu, there’s a chance that not everything will be great. It’s difficult to do a lot of things well as opposed to picking one area of focus. Such is not the case at Hub 51. You’ll be satisfied no matter your craving.